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Wetland restoration welcomed by community

16/11/2021

A community initiative in Hawkes Bay has seen the successful restoration of a small wetland which will bring significant benefits to the land and biodiversity.

During harvesting operations in Lakeview Forest, Rayonier Matariki’s Harvest planning manager, Andy Fleming noticed the adjacent peat wetland was dried out, vegetation was dying and the local biodiversity was threatened.

Working with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, NZ Landcare Trust and RedAxe Forestry Intelligence, a solution was created and a plan put in place.

Andy explains “we wanted to restore the movement of water through the peat wetland by using permeable and impermeable dams which would enhance the water quality, reduce downstream flooding and increase the habitat for native fish species in the flowing sections of the stream.”

The project has been running for the last two years.  Rayonier Matariki donated a buffer zone around the wetland so a larger area could be converted into wetland to protect the overall area, and carried out refencing.

The work has involved weed clearance, pest control and the construction of leaky weirs to arrest water flow and stop sediment flowing downstream and entering Lake Tutira.

“Due to logging operations there was a surplus of wood scraps and slash that was placed in the stream and anchored to prevent them moving downstream,” says Andy.   “The weirs are deliberately leaky so they basically mimic the natural processes of a stream.” 

By introducing wood into the system water flows are slowed, allowing for sediment deposits and the capture of small woody vegetation creating a natural dam to lift the water table and reconnect the floodplain. 

The project culminated this month in the finishing touches of planting native grasses, shrubs and trees.

As a result of this work it has been estimated the wetlands could hold up to a million litres of water and has the potential to keep Lake Tutira at a cooler temperature during summer which will sustain native fish life and lessen algae blooms.